Recombinant vaccinia virus is a useful and powerful tool for the expression and study of foreign genes. Methods that are currently available for the selection of vaccinia virus recombinants include the restoration of viral plaque-forming phenotype, the replication of viral DNA in the presence of BUdR or mycophenolic acid, and the maturation and propagation of virus under antibiotic selection. Though effective, each of these methods requires several weeks of concerted effort to isolate, purify, and amplify a potential recombinant virus. Here we report the development of a bifunctional enzyme (BiZyme) to simplify and expedite the isolation and purification of vaccinia virus recombinants. This novel selection marker is composed of an inframe fusion between the genes encoding gfp and the neomycin phosphotransferase enzyme (neo). Remarkably, expression of the chimeric gfp-neo cassette in the presence of G418 confers both viability and fluorescence to transfected or recombinant virus-infected cells, indicating that both activities are retained within the fusion protein. Therefore, BiZyme was incorporated into a recombination plasmid (pGNR) to enable the concomitant insertion of a foreign gene of interest. Here we demonstrate that this selection/amplification process requires a minimum of 11 days to produce the desired vaccinia virus recombinants. Furthermore, recombinants produced in this fashion have been shown to express both biologically active enzymes and antigenically authentic foreign antigens. In addition to its use in the vaccinia virus vector system, the BiZyme bifunctional selection scheme should be applicable to other eukaryotic and prokaryotic expression systems, simply by coupling it to the appropriate host-specific transcription regulatory signals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)